In 1955, Ralph L. Toy started into the drilling business by purchasing his first Davey Drill. He started primarily drilling blast holes. As the business grew, so did his services. In the early mid 1960’s his son, Richard (Dick), came back to the business as a geologist. This started to grow the business into a more diverse drilling business. This led to the purchases of larger rigs and different styles of rigs. The foundation has, in our view, allowed us to be diverse and leaders in the industry, given our vast array of services we offer. In 1996, Gary Toy took over the business and ran it until 2016 when his son and current owner, Brody came back to the family business. We look forward to continuing the family legacy of providing top notch service in every field we provide services in.
Local man relaunches family drilling business
Twenty years after it ceased operation, a local man is resurrecting his family's long-time drilling business, making him the fourth generation to enter the industry.
Rediscovering what he described as a lifelong fascination with the drilling industry — especially for water well drilling — Brody Toy of Kittanning, formerly of Distant, recently opened Toy Drilling Contractor, a successor to the family business, Ralph L. Toy Company, that was first launched in the 1950s.
"It's hard to get it out of your blood," Toy said, noting that he is following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, grandfather and father, all of whom found their niche in the drilling industry over the last 60 years. "I've always wanted to do it, but I've just never had the opportunity."
In fact, it may have been fate when Toy happened across a familiar-looking drill rig sitting in a garage near Margaret, and inquired with the owner, who explained to Toy that he was in luck because he was looking to sell the machine.
"I saw it and immediately thought that it could have been one of grandpa's old drills," Toy said, adding that upon further inspection, his instincts were confirmed when he was able to make out a faint oval-shaped logo of Toy Drilling Company — the company owned by his grandfather — on the drill's side.
Since he had been looking to get into the drilling industry — as a supplement to the 60-cow dairy farm owned by he and his wife at Orchardville — Toy said he couldn't pass up the opportunity to purchase "a piece of family history."
"When I had the opportunity to purchase it last month I couldn't resist," Toy said of the 1970 Davey drill specially redesigned by his grandfather. He said that although the drill looked like it was "in pretty bad shape," some cosmetic work, including a new paint job with its original red and gray colors, was all it really required. "Mechanically, not much work was needed."
With the drill looking very reminiscent of its glory days, Toy continued that he also decided to keep the original oval-shaped logo of his grandfather's company for his own business, which now adorns the side of the newly renovated rig.
"A lot of people remember and associate the oval and the red and gray drills with Toy Drilling Company," he said.
Now officially up and running as Toy Drilling Contractor, Toy said that although most of his grandfather's drilling business came from the coal industry, he will be focusing more on water well drilling.
"Right now, I'm mainly doing water wells with some exploration for coal, in addition to well clean-outs and pump work," Toy said of his new business venture, which is an authorized dealer of Flint & Walling, a family-owned business that specializes in 100 percent American-made pumps and motors.
Using the skills he learned over the years from watching and working with his grandfather and father, Toy added, however, that he hopes to continue to expand his reach to more coal companies for exploration work and to provide the fast, superior and quality service that his family worked to provide to customers for 60 years.
"I have big shoes to fill, and I want to get the business back to where grandpa had it — large enough to supply whatever is needed, " he said, adding that he hopes to hire another full-time employee next year. "I'm striving for customer satisfaction as soon as possible."
According to Toy, his great-grandfather, Ralph Toy, started the Ralph L. Toy Company in 1955 mainly providing drilling services for coal companies. He built a large garage in Distant in the 1960s, when his son (Toy's grandfather), Richard, moved back to the area after serving in the Navy and finishing college. The business eventually morphed into Toy Drilling Company, with son Richard at the helm.
"When grandpa came back the business really expanded," Toy said, explaining that Toy Drilling really took off in the 1970s and 1980s, making his grandfather one of the largest drilling contractors in the country.
"At its peak, the business included 18 drills, and over 50 employees traveling across six states," he continued. "Grandpa carried it the whole time and he did a good job."
Toy Drilling continued its success until Richard Toy's retirement in 1996 when the business closed its doors, dispersing most of its equipment to other drilling companies.
Toy said that while he is hopes to eventually run a five-or-six-county operation, he plans to balance his drilling career with his farming career.
"It would be hard for me not to still farm," Toy said. "I love doing them both and hope to find a balance between them. I like working for myself and pushing myself to get where I want to be."
Most importantly though, Toy added, he hopes to instill the work ethic passed down to him from his grandfather and father to his own daughter and son.
"I really hope that my son, or my daughter, decides to take over either the farming or drilling business," he said.
Toy and Toy Drilling Contractor can be reached at 1-888-H20-WELL.